Tuesday, May 27, 2014

MQM should choose a Successor of Altaf Hussain-

May 27, 2014
By Saeed Qureshi
It seems as if a noose is being tightened by the British authorities around the neck of the MQM leader Altaf Hussain now living an exiled life in London. His latest overtures to obtain a Pakistani passport might be an attempt to leave UK and settle somewhere else, presumably in Pakistan. Otherwise it would be unthinkable for an asylum seeker with dubious credentials to leave a comparative comfortable life and opt for a thorn-ridden terrain of Pakistan that he left in a hurry to escape possible attempts on his life.
Several MQM leaders in Pakistan have raised hue and cry about not giving Pakistani passport to Altaf Hussain. They are spitting fire over the delayed or stalled decision of the Pakistan government in this matter. They have been at the same time extolling his patriotism and services not only for MQM and Muhajir community but also for Pakistan. This claim is open to debate as to what were his services for Pakistan.
Recently, one of the top leaders of MQM while paying glowing tributes to Altaf Hussain’s leadership portrayed him as a great leader who gave an identity to the identity-less Muhajir community and made them a vibrant monolithic force to fight for their rights, dignity and equality in Pakistan. This indeed is a truthful claim but one has to also add that because of him the MQM earned such ignoble labels as a dreadful mafia and a terrorist outfit.
Dr. Imran Farooq a one-time celebrity and co-founder of All Pakistan Muhajir Students Organization (APMSO) was murdered in mysterious circumstances on September 16, 2010, outside his home at Green Lane, Edgeware in North London. For almost four years the London Police has been investigating this high profile case with Altaf Hussain as one of the suspects who might have masterminded this assassination.
Since 2010 Altaf Hussain’s clout and powerful image has considerably whittled down. In the wake of a prolonged investigation about money laundering, lately his bank accounts have been frozen. It is evident that now the British government was about to reveal the outcome of four years’ investigation that could entail either arrest or exile of Altaf Hussain.
For health reasons and also under the nagging fear that he might be arrested any time, the long and dreary sermons and Tele-conferences of Altaf Hussain are now far and few.
In the wake of the latest anti-terrorism campaign in Karachi by rangers and police, a large number of MQM activists and suspects have also been nabbed and locked up. The oft-repeated strategy of jamming Karachi with shutter down callas and agitations and rallies by highly organized cadres is now losing its steam and consistency and the law enforcement agencies are continuing their job.
Lately there seems to be kind of huge panic and alarm among the MQM leadership for certain developments that are exclusively known to them. There has been a flurry of strong statements by various MQM leaders hedging and supporting Altaf Hussain in face of an impending and expected malady.
In the latest mammoth rally at Karachi various top ranking MQM politicians expressed their solidarity and sympathy with their leader at a time of colossal adversities he is faced with. Farooq Sattar complained “I want to ask Britain’s Prime Minster David Cameron why Altaf Hussain is being harassed when the MQM is fully cooperating in police investigations. “Why are his bank accounts being frozen when no FIR has been lodged against him and no charge framed in court?”
MQM Deputy Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui eulogized Altaf Hussain by asserting that “Altaf was the one who gave us an identity.” Barrister Saif emphasized that “closing bank accounts and leveling false accusations – were mistaken. “He is not afraid of any cases.”
MQM’s MNA Nabil Gabol stated that those accusing Altaf of money laundering should first see the $200 billion stashed in Swiss banks, and the palatial mansions near Hyde Park in London. Only a small house belonging to a poor man on Edgware Road is being targeted.” Haider Abbas Rizvi said that Altaf Hussain was the only modern, liberal and secular leader in Pakistan.
Now all these hard hitting statements cannot rescue Altaf Hussain from the impending doom that could be a jail sentence according to the British laws for the crime of money laundering. By issuing acrimonious salvos the British laws would not change. In the past such threatening rhetorical postures have worked in favor of MQM and Altaf Hussain but cannot intimidate the British government where Altaf is given refuge and protection.
It is worth recalling that In June 2013, the operatives of the Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command searched at two North West London addresses including a house which is owned by the MQM chief Altaf. They arrested Iftikhar Hussain, Altaf’s cousin and personal assistant, who is now out on bail. The police impounded $600,000 in cash and some jewelry from Altaf’s personal residence.
 Altaf Hussain by virtue of his aggressive conduct and inflammatory speeches has rendered himself controversial both in United Kingdom and Pakistan. A refugee is not supposed to run and guide a political party that at home does not have a clean image or profile.
In fact Altaf Hussain has become a liability for the MQM which though most of the top notch leaders and even a segment of Urdu speaking population realize but cannot express it openly for fear of revenge and retaliation from the goons of MQM. Reportedly several prominent cohorts of Altaf Hussain lost their lives because of their dissensions with him. So under fear the MQM population turns out in huge numbers at rallies and to pose as if they were listening with rapt attention Altaf’s emotional orations.
Evidently the political landscape of Pakistan is now changing particularly in Karachi where a strong contender in the garb of PTI besides PPP and JI has emerged. Additionally, the full scale operations by the law enforcement agencies have practically blunted the arm twisting and bullying facades and antics of MQM that it has been advantageously resorting to for decades. MQM cannot blame that the intensive anti- crime blitz was solely being carried out against MQM.
Altaf Hussain founded MQM for ending the repression and discrimination against the Muhajir community that was marginalized by successive regimes after partition. But now MQM gets is due share in power both at the center and in Sindh province and is treated a force to reckon with.
Now the old tactics of bullying, blackmailing, taking out rallies and boycotting can no more be much effective for power sharing or perks. The MQM has to wash off the stigma of sponsoring armed gangs involvement in racketeering, abduction, harassment, and the targeted killings of ethnic and political opponents, journalists, the police and diplomats alike.
It is high time for the MQM’s central coordination and Central Executive executive committee to seriously find a successor of Altaf Hussain as he  may not be able to provide guidance in case he is imprisoned for money laundering if not for masterminding the murder of Dr. Imran Farooq.
Seeking of a passport means Altaf wants to leave UK and stay in some other country most probably Pakistan or South Africa. Even if a Pakistani passport is issued to Altaf Hussain and he comes to Pakistan, he would still be the most sought after target of Taliban and the religious parties whom he had been condemning all along. In 2001 in a letter addressed to the then Britain Prime Minister Tony Blair, he offered to help set up a spy network against the Taliban.
 Also there a huge pile of murder cases pending in Pakistani courts against Altaf although some have been quashed on the basis of NRO. So his stay in Pakistan could be as problematic and hazardous as anywhere else in the world. As such the glamorous era of Altaf Hussain ruling like an unrivaled monarch of a brutal political empire in Pakistan from safe haven of London for 22 years seems to be coming to a close.

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